House Republicans have voted to form a special committee to investigate Planned Parenthood, following a months-long campaign by right-wing media and anti-choice groups pushing deceptive attacks against the women's health organization. Multiple recent state investigations and a federal investigation have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing.
House Republicans Vote To Form Special Committee On Planned Parenthood
Huffington Post: “House Republicans Create Special Committee To Harass Planned Parenthood” Following Release Of Deceptive Videos. Huffington Post White House and congressional reporter Jennifer Bendery noted that the special committee was sparked by “heavily edited undercover videos that purported to show the family planning provider breaking the law by selling fetal tissue after abortions” (emphasis added):
House Republicans created a special committee on Wednesday to investigate abortions, fetal tissue procurement and the use of federal funds at Planned Parenthood.
Lawmakers voted 242-184 on a resolution establishing the committee, which will function as an Energy and Commerce subcommittee and will have the power to subpoena documents and testimony. Its stated mission, among other things, is to examine “medical procedures and business practices used by entities involved in fetal tissue procurement” and “federal funding and support for abortion providers.”
The special committee comes a few months after anti-abortion activists released a series of heavily edited undercover videos that purported to show the family planning provider breaking the law by selling fetal tissue after abortions. Multiple state investigations and a federal investigation by the Energy and Commerce Committee have so far been unable to find any facts to support that claim.
During Wednesday's debate, Republicans couldn't say that Planned Parenthood broke any laws. Instead, they railed against abortion in general and described how disgusting it was to see videos of fetal tissue being removed from aborted fetuses. [Huffington Post, 10/7/15]
Anti-Choice Center For Medical Progress Has Released Ten Deceptive Videos Attacking Planned Parenthood. Starting this summer, an anti-choice activist group known as the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released multiple videos containing undercover footage of discussions with Planned Parenthood personnel and staff members of other private, for-profit biomedical procurement companies. The videos purport to show that Planned Parenthood is illegally selling fetal tissue and altering abortion procedures in order to profit from the sale of fetal tissue. Scores of mainstream media outlets have confirmed that the footage shows no illegal behavior by, or on behalf of, Planned Parenthood, and that the words of Planned Parenthood personnel who were secretly filmed have been “grossly [taken] out of context.” [Media Matters, 8/31/15]
Right-Wing Media Promoted Misleading Attacks Against Planned Parenthood, And Called For A Congressional Investigation
Fox News Devoted Ten Segments In One Day To Hyping CMP Video's False Claims About Planned Parenthood. Fox News devoted 10 segments on seven separate programs in one day to hyping one of the deceptively-edited videos from CMP, which purported to show Planned Parenthood “haggling” over the price of “baby parts.” [Media Matters, 7/22/15]
Right-Wing Media Figures Used Doctored Video To Liken Planned Parenthood To Nazis. Right-wing media figures used the deceptive CMP videos to compare Planned Parenthood to Nazis. Rush Limbaugh and Erick Erickson both invoked notorious Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele, who performed deadly human experiments on prisoners in concentration camps, while Sean Hannity claimed Planned Parenthood officials sounded like “high ranking official[s] in the Nazi regime.” [Media Matters, 7/22/15]
Fox Correspondent Peter Doocy “Searched The Planned Parenthood Website For Fetal Baby Part Prices,” Parroting CMP's Bogus Talking Points. On Fox News' Special Report, correspondent Peter Doocy echoed debunked allegations from the deceptively-edited videos to claim he searched Planned Parenthood's website for “fetal baby part prices,” but didn't get any results because the sale is a “well-kept secret.” [Fox News, Special Report, 7/21/15]
Fox's O'Reilly And Tantaros Jumped Off CMP Videos To Claim “We Don't Really Need Planned Parenthood.” Fox hosts Bill O'Reilly and Andrea Tantaros advocated for entirely eliminating Planned Parenthood's federal funding, which helps provide critical women's health services across the U.S., by wildly misrepresenting what the organization spends on abortion and the services they provide. O'Reilly stated unequivocally on his show that “Planned Parenthood should be defunded, period. I don't want my tax dollars going to them,” while Tantaros falsely claimed “those services are provided under Obamacare. So, we don't really need Planned Parenthood.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/22/15]
Fox's Neil Cavuto: Fox Has Exposed “The Details” On Planned Parenthood Others Haven't Seen. On his Fox show Your World, Neil Cavuto noted that Fox had pushed out “details” about Planned Parenthood that other outlets had not, including “stuff that might be criminal.” His guest agreed, and called for Congress to “investigate Planned Parenthood to find out if they are indeed dismembering this fetuses”:
CAVUTO: Adriana, you could turn it around and say, very few people will be exposed to the details of what we've seen and know and passed along to you here on Fox, so they will liken this to sort of a Fox, or right-wing, cabal against Planned Parenthood, when in fact, even among pro-choicers, this isn't the issue, the issue is how an agency has gone far, far, far beyond its purview and power, even into the touch of stuff that might be criminal. What do you think?
ADRIANA COHEN (Boston Herald columnist): That's right. I mean, Planned Parenthood absolutely needs to be investigated. For one, they're a nonprofit, so they should not be profiting period. So the IRS and/or Congress needs to audit their books to find out if they're in violation and if they're selling baby parts, number one. Number two, they also need to investigate Planned Parenthood to find out if they are indeed dismembering this fetuses, which we know that they are, and selling them. You know, trafficking human remains is a felony. And if that is what's going on, then absolutely our government needs to pull funding immediately. [Fox News, Your World, 8/4/15]
Fox's Bill O'Reilly: “Congress Must Now Get Involved And At Least Suspend Tax Payments To Planned Parenthood Until A Federal Investigation Is Completed.” Fox host O'Reilly called for a federal investigation into Planned Parenthood based on the misleading CMP videos:
O'REILLY: Talking Points is appalled about the lack of leadership in America and also about the apathy on the part of many individual Americans who could not care less what happens to the unborn. Congress must now get involved and at least suspend tax payments to Planned Parenthood until a federal investigation is completed.
If Congress does not do that, we can then rightly be criticized by countries Iran and Russia as being a barbaric nation. We will lose all moral authority in the world. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/28/15, via Nexis]
Fox's Shannon Bream: “Congress Is Sure To Look Into” “Whether The Actions Of Planned Parenthood And Their Partners Have Violated Federal Law.” Fox News correspondent Shannon Bream suggested Congress was “sure to look into” supposed lawbreaking at Planned Parenthood, despite the lack of any evidence of wrongdoing:
BREAM: One of the things Congress is sure to look into is whether the actions of Planned Parenthood and their partners have violated federal law. In this video a Planned Parenthood official discusses abortion techniques that produce better tissue samples. [Fox News, Special Report, 9/7/15, via Nexis]
Multiple Investigations Into Allegations Have Found No Illegal Activity By Planned Parenthood
Growing List Of Planned Parenthood Investigations Clears Organization Of Any Wrongdoing. The deceptively-edited and secretly-recorded videos released by the Center for Medical Progress have spurred at least 12 states to launch investigations into Planned Parenthood's operations, even though there are “only three states in which Planned Parenthood affiliate clinics can participate in fetal tissue donation programs,” according to Yahoo News. Six states -- Massachusetts, Indiana, South Dakota, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Missouri -- and the Department of Health and Human Services have all announced that they found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood or known violations of federal fetal tissue laws. [Media Matters, 8/24/15]